[CT Birds] Writing about birds. A question.

Jamie Meyers ctredbird2 at comcast.net
Fri Dec 11 18:12:17 EST 2009


When I write about birds, be it for the Hartford Audubon newsletter's field notes or otherwise, I use the AOU checklist standard, which was well-summarized by Roy.  While it may be OK in general practice not to capitalize bird names, I AM a birder and I choose to write like one, whether or not my intended audience includes birders.

One other wrinkle to this -- if referring to a species by name, such as Bald Eagle, then it's proper to capitalize it as such.  But if referring to a type of bird in general, such as saying "soaring like an eagle" then capitalization is not correct.

While not exactly on the topic of Bill's post, I do wish there were better understood standards for the use of pluralization of birds in written communication.  If you have seen one pelican, then you have seen one pelican, without an S at the end.  If you have seen 8 pelicans, then you have seen 8 pelicans, with an S at the end.  Same goes for ducks, hawks, sparrows and probably 95% of the birds we see.  There are widespread misuses in this area all the time, and it makes me wonder if the grammar rules changed in the past few years and I didn't get the memo.  Of course, English being what it is (and I'm not an English major so I don't feel THAT qualified to talk about it), there are some species, such as Killdeer and the teal, where the plurals are not so clear.

Just my two cents.  

Jamie Meyers
Canton, CT 

----- Original Message -----
From: jaybrd49 at aol.com
To: rmharvey at snet.net
Cc: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Sent: Fri, 11 Dec 2009 22:41:19 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Writing about birds. A question.


 Roy:

You are correct. However, only those of us who are birders capitalize the names of the birds. In general practice, animal names are usually not capitalized unless they include proper names like Connecticut warbler, American bald eagle., Audubon's shearwater, etc. Then, of course, there are exceptions with respect to the hyphenated names such as Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner from the tropics or Green Violet-ear.  And, how about Whip-poor-will and Chuck-will's-widow? Why would we expect any rational thought from an organization that came up with the name Northern Beardless Tyrranulet. The name is longer than the bird!

Jay Kaplan
Canton

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Roy Harvey 
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Sent: Fri, Dec 11, 2009 5:15 pm
Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Writing about birds. A question.


The American Ornithological Union (AOU) standardizes the capitalization of the 
common names on the checklist.

http://www.aou.org/checklist/north/index.php

I think they change their minds now and again, but not so much for the birds we 
get here in CT.

I generally try to follow it when assembling the daily report, though I am sure 
I mess it up often.  A couple of tricky ones: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and 
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck.  It seems like when there is a hyphen in the first 
part the second word is not capitalized, but in the last part the second word IS 
capitalized.  But I think you really need to look each one up.

Roy Harvey
Beacon Falls, CT


--- On Fri, 12/11/09, Boletebill  wrote:

> From: Boletebill 
> Subject: [CT Birds] Writing about birds. A question.
> To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
> Date: Friday, December 11, 2009, 4:35 PM
> I probably should know this but I
> don't. When writing about birds for the public what are the
> conventions for capitalization?  Which are correct?
> 1. I like bald eagles.2. I like Bald Eagles.3. The Bald
> Eagles is our symbol.4. The bald eagle is our symbol.5.
> Another favorite is the red-shouldered hawk.6. Another
> favorite is the Red-shouldered Hawk.7. Another favorite is
> the Red-shouldered hawk.
> Bill Yule
> 
> "For those who hunger after the earthly excrescences called
> mushrooms."
> 
> 
>       
> _______________________________________________
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